Zebra & Zebu Training, Day 3
On my 3rd day with the Z's, I started out with a few different objects again, to see if they showed any interest and would give me some reinforceable behaviors. Mr. Cute stepped on the mat a few times, but was so interested in me that I could tell he wasn't really making the connection between the behavior of standing on the mat and the reinforcement. I ended up switching to touch acceptance with him instead. This went quite well and I felt that I could probably develop a cheek to hand targeting behavior out of it pretty quickly.
For Stripes, I set up a bucket further away from me and used a long PVC pipe to deliver the reinforcement in to the bucket. I also tried out a whistle to mark her behaviors, but kept using the clicker for Mr. Cute. It took some juggling around to get everything in my hands so that I could hold the clicker, the target stick, and the pipe, and still be able to use them all!
At first Stripes wasn't too sure about this new reinforcement delivery system. I started out with moving the pipe in to the bucket to reinforce, which was a mistake. It pretty much had the same effect as me moving to the bucket to drop the food in - it was aversive. Once I realized how silly it was to do it that way, I moved the pipe in to the bucket after she finished eating, so that it was already there for the next repetition instead. This was a definite improvement, although Stripes was still spooking when the grain would hit the bucket after rolling through the pipe. Definitely the lesser of the two evils though, and I figured she'd get used to the sound after a few times.
I was really happy to see that having a week to think about our last session had made Stripes much more eager to participate this time around. She investigated the target numerous times and made the association that behavior = whistle = food very quickly. She still paced around quite a bit and refused to target many times, but she was giving me enough to make it clear she understood. I definitely think protected contact will help Stripes progress even faster, and have some ideas on how I'm going to rig that up for next weekend's sessions.
This is supposed to be Zebra training, but of course I can't leave Mr. Cute out, since they share a room. Then the capybaras showed up to see what was going on and of course I had to include them, so a few times while Stripes and Mr. Cute were eating, I went around and tossed a little food to the Surfer Dudes too 😇 Last time it was the Highlands...I wonder who it will be next time!
When I went back in the afternoon for our second session of the day, the Z's were once again eager to start! I'm thinking I need to make a change to Mr. Cute's cheek touch because we weren't really making progress with it and the behavior actually started to fall apart during the second session. I think my hand coming down from above is too difficult for him, so I might try kneeling in front of him and reaching out that way instead.
I ditched the mats and cones for the second session, and forgot the whistle, of course! This is why I usually just mark with a tongue click. I'm always forgetting or losing the clicker, and now the whistle. Luckily I had the mini ocarina that I use for my horse's recall in my treat pouch, so I used that instead. I think we both liked the sound better!
Our second session was pretty short because it was starting to look stormy out and I didn't want to get caught in the rain. It's probably better that it was short though. Stripes decided to try sniffing my hand. We definitely need to move in to protected contact!